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Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital. 2017 Jun;37(3):175-179. doi: 10.14639/0392-100X-1291.

Adaptive psychological structure in childhood hearing impairment: audiological correlations.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria "Policlinico Vittorio Emanuele", University of Catania, Italy.
ENT Department - Rovigo Provincial Hospital.
Department of Emergency Pediatrics, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria "Policlinico Vittorio Emanuele", University of Catania, Italy.


in English, Italian

The present research deals with the clinical and social problems present during linguistic and cognitive development of deaf children. Currently, the development of Theory of Mind represents an important research field in deafness studies. These international studies highlighted a significant alteration in the development of Theory of Mind in deaf children compared to normal hearing children, especially in cases of congenital or preverbal hearing loss. In particular, the research focuses on the skills of deaf children in recognising emotions and desires, through both perceptive and cognitive methods, by evaluation of psycho-cognitive skills of children with severe hearing loss using a set of questions to be administered to hearing loss patients. The experiment was performed on a group composed of 10 children (5 males and 5 females) aged 4 to 9 years and 54 to 108 months, affected by bilateral congenital hearing loss (severe to total), or hearing loss that developed in preverbal children the year before entering elementary school, or during the fourth year of elementary school. The selection criteria were based on: audiologic evaluation, neuro-psychological tests administered to assess general, cognitive as well as praxis and perceptive abilities, and clinical observations performed to assess psychopathology using tests that assess development of both visual perceptive (Coloured Progressive Matrices) and graphic representational abilities (Test of Human Figure Drawings and the Family Drawing Test). The instrument "cognitive" was the "Deaf Children Series", arranged by us, that consists of a mental status examination (MSE) that evaluates: level of cognitive (knowledge-related) ability, emotional mood, and speech and thought patterns at the time of evaluation. Deaf children show a reduced responsiveness to the expressions of sadness on the perceptive side. Through the test, we observed a psychodynamic defense mechanism considering perceptive understanding performance. On the contrary, in normal hearing children, the emotion 'fear' is the most difficult to identify. Deaf children seem to be more susceptible to recognition of visual emotions. Furthermore, deaf children present significant problem-solving skills and emotional recognition skills, possibly as a result of their hearing impairment.


Cognitive-relational development; Emotional recognition; Hearing impairment; Infant hearing loss; Theory of mind

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